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Law, Revolution, and Religion: Harold Berman's Interpretation of the English Revolution

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Abstract

This article offers a sympathetic critique of Harold Berman’s interpretation of the interaction between law and religion in seventeenth-century England. Berman’s general historical account of what he calls the Western legal tradition is shaped by an organizing thesis about the relationship between law and revolution, supplemented by a secondary thesis about the role of religion in the development of Western law. However, Berman’s description of the English revolution is marred by a persistent failure to define and distinguish with sufficient clarity the great variety of Protestant religious teachings of the day. As a consequence, the potential impact of these beliefs on the law of England is not adequately explored, and this makes it difficult to determine the extent to which the religious beliefs of particular Protestant parties shaped the future development of the Western legal tradition. Berman provides us, therefore, with a brilliant and provocative, yet ultimately attenuated, account of law and religion in seventeenth-century England.

Nicholas Aroney, "Law, Revolution, and Religion: Harold Berman's Interpretation of the English Revolution," Journal of Markets & Morality 8, no. 2 (Spring 2005): 355-385


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